The 2001 novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn depicts a town in which a totalitarian government begins banning letters – from the town and from the novel itself.
Proto-Indo-European is thought to be the ancestor language of English, Latin, Greek, French, Russian, Urdu, Sanskrit, Farsi, and dozens of others. But what did it sound like?
We know how Chinese was pronounced 1400 years ago thanks to the world’s oldest surviving rhyming dictionary.
Through sophisticated mnemonics and error-checking mechanisms the Vedas, the canonical religious texts of Hinduism, have been transmitted orally for three and a half thousand years with shocking precision in both word and sound.
What does an American accent sound like to an Italian? The Italian song Prisencolinensinainciusol will show you.
Lewis Carroll’s ninth rule of letter writing was to never cross your letters. But many people did it anyway.
Clicks are used in several languages of southern and eastern Africa, most famously in Xhosa. The sounds make Xhosa songs and tongue twisters sound amazing.
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The biblical phrase “peace on Earth, and goodwill to all men” is probably a mistake, a mistranslation because of a single missing letter.
In 1945 the linguist George Zipf observed two strange word frequency phenomena: the longer a word is, the less common it is; and the most common word is used twice as much as the second most common, three times more than the third.
How do you work out the function of a specific gene? Knock them out one by one and see what happens.
The phrase “Here Be Dragons” actually appears only once on a historical map, on the early 16th century Hunt-Lenox Globe. And actual dragons live there.
The word helicopter doesn’t come from heli- and -copter; it was actually formed from helico- and -pter. That hasn’t stopped us making new words from the wrong history.
The longest word in Ancient Greek literature comes from Aristophanes’ comic play Assemblywomen. It is 78 syllables long.
In English no words begin with the consonant cluster /kstr/, but it does appear in the middle of “extra.” In contrast, Slovak can begin a word with “žblnkn” and Hawaiian never begins a word with more than one consonant. Why?